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Muhammad Babandede, Nigeria Immigration ex-Comptroller General pulled out of service

By Editor
16 September 2021   |   9:56 pm
The 16th Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede has been pulled out of service. The event was attended by Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, other government officials, senior NIS officers, local and international partners, Jigawa Governor Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar, Emr of Hadejia, HRH Adamu Abubakar Maje, friends and family members. Born November…

The 16th Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede has been pulled out of service.

The event was attended by Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, other government officials, senior NIS officers, local and international partners, Jigawa Governor Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar, Emr of Hadejia, HRH Adamu Abubakar Maje, friends and family members.

Born November 21, 1963 in Malam Madori, Jigawa, Babandede attended Malam Madori Primary School (1969 – 1975), Government Secondary School, Rano; Bayero University, Kano (BUK) where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History and Islamic Studies in 1984. He later obtained a Master’s Degree in Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.

Shortly after his National Youth Service (NYSC), Babandede joined the NIS in 1985 as Assistant Superintendent and was a participant in the 12th Cadet Basic Course at the premier Immigration Training School, Kano (ITSK).

After passing out, he was posted to the then Abuja Command before the official relocation of the nation’s capital from Lagos to Abuja in January 1986. He was later moved to the Procurement Unit of the NIS headquarters in 1988 as one of the pioneer officers.

Babandede served as Personal Assistant to ex-Director of Immigration Service, Garba Abbas, and an Immigration Attaché in the Nigeria Embassy in Bonn, Germany. In 1991, he was deployed to the Consulate General of Nigeria Office in Berlin.

In 1995, Babandede returned to Nigeria and was transferred to the Investigation/Aliens Department at the NIS headquarters. In 2004, he headed the Nigerian Task Force on combating the menace of Trafficking in Person (TIP), in collaboration with the Italian Task Force.

In the same year, he became the first head of NIS Anti-Human Trafficking Unit and was seconded to the then newly established National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) as Director of Investigation. During his five years in NAPTIP, Nigeria was elevated to Tier 1 rating in the US Department of State TIP Report.

Babandede returned to the NIS as a Comptroller in 2010 and headed the newly established Migration Unit which attracted collaborations and capacity building interventions from the EU, FRONTEX, IOM and UNODC.

In 2012, he was promoted to Assistant Comptroller General and made the Passport Division chief. In 2014, he became Deputy Comptroller-General and was appointed head of the then Directorate of Passport and Operations until 15th May, 2016, when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the 16th CGIS.

Babandede was a member of the INTERPOL Working Group on TIP, presented papers and contributed to publications for the EUROPOL, INTERPOL, BKA Germany, Swiss Police, Fin Police, Ghanaian Police. and United Nations Offices in New York, Geneva and Vienna.

He made inputs at the Nigerian National Policy on Migration; UN Anti-Human Trafficking Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners, and the EU-funded Basic Training Manual on Investigation and Prosecution in Migrant Smuggling.

Babandede received training in many countries and institutions including FBI, ILO, UNICEF and UNODC. In 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan conferred the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) honour on the Chevening Fellow.

Full text of Babandede’s farewell speech on exit from service:

“It is a great opportunity for me to stand before this beautiful gathering to make a remark on my successful exit from public service after an interesting sojourn. Looking back, particularly when I received my first letter of appointment in September 1985 (exactly 36 years ago), I have lost count of the privileges I continue to enjoy as a member of the NIS family. My special gratitude is to Allah for a life well spent and for a peaceful existence, which is the prayer of every Chief Executive. I certainly cannot forget the greatest and brightest of them all which is my appointment as the 16th Comptroller General of Immigration Service on 15th May, 2016. After 5 years and 4 months as CEO of NIS, it is time to go home when the ovation is high. Thanks always go Allah for every unconceivable favour bestowed on me from the day I was born to the day I will die.

So many people have influenced my career, many have died and some are seated right here. I always attribute my knowledge and skill to my former bosses the late Directors/CGIs of Immigration such Muhammadu Damulak, Sahabi Dange, Lady Nwizu and Alhaji Garba Abbas. I can’t forget the influence of CGs like Senator UK Umar, CJ Udeh, Lady Uzoma, RB Musa, David Paraddang and MK Abeshi. Most of them use to call me for challenging jobs. God knows such calls and entering their offices terrifies me. I am honoured that my picture will be hanging along with theirs in NIS headquarters forever.

My special gratitude goes to General Abdulrahaman Dambazau who recommended my name to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and to Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for not only the good working relationship but for the recommendation Mr President, without me knowing, for a year extension which brought me to this time. The one-year extension is significant to me and the Service as I was able to complete my flagship project, the Technology building. I am going to miss my debate with Ogbeni, his strong opinion and tasking. I insisted the Ogbeni himself commission the Conference Centre on the right when you enter this beautiful NIS City. Ogbeni gave me the biggest surprise and named the Centre after me. Thank you Mr Minister for immortalizing me in this beautiful city.

After my appointment, we organized a strategic meeting in Kano where we developed a strategic plan. One of the issues identified was acute shortages of office and barracks accommodation in the system. A situation where some of our officers operated in deplorable environments, especially for an arms-bearing organization, was quite a challenge. We went into action and I had to promise that we shall build and commission at least two Command Building Complexes yearly. Thank goodness, we did not fail. The Sokoto State Command Office Complex commissioned two weeks ago was the 12th of such we built and delivered within the period of my stewardship. There are 8 command buildings at different stages of completion.

We noticed gaps in the availability of operational documents in the system and we considered it less than appropriate. At the last count, we had delivered fourteen (14) operational texts (publications), including annual reports, which have remained consistent since 2016. Documents such as ‘The Nigeria Immigration Service Strategy, 2016 – 2019’ was the foundation of our reforms. The new curriculum for training institutions targeted personnel reform and ‘The Border Management Strategy: 2019 – 2023’, developed with the support of the EU under the supervision of IOM, will assist in border security, regional integration and tackling human rights issues, including corruption.

The Nigeria Visa Policy (NVP) 2020, launched by Mr President, is the first comprehensive approach to developing a visa policy that addresses our socio-economic needs as a nation. The task before the next leadership is effective implementation. We are almost set to launch the ‘The one Global e-Visa’ which make Nigerian Visa processing more efficient and transparent. The e-border project has commenced where 84 land borders will be monitored real-time-online with a pilot case linking headquarters with one of the Border Control Posts at Illela in Sokoto State.

Our Border Security and Migration Management efforts got some useful interventions to the extent that most of our Control Posts have been upgraded and installed with modern communication and logistics facilities. Our Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) has been described by IOM as the largest and most complex migration system in the world. We have successfully connected all the nation’s International Airports and twenty-three Land Border Posts to the MIDAS platform. With this facility, the generation and processing of migrants’ travel history have been simplified while intelligence gathering and information sharing capability have been improved.

I thank all our donors and IOM for agreeing to establish the ‘MIDAS Centre of Excellence’ in NIS Headquarters. The centre will be a world reference point. The functionality of the MIDAS platform has received a tremendous boost with the establishment of the INTERPOL Desk in the Technology Building. We applied and got the key to operate an INTERPOL platform and within few months of our connection, we have successfully uploaded over 150,000 Stolen and Lost Passport Documents to the Database. With the facility, we Are now able to trace and track international crimes and criminal groups for necessary action.

To ensure improved border security, we embarked on the construction of Forward Operations Bases along some of our border flanks. The facility has office and residential features, equipped with modern patrol, communication and logistics gadgets. Operatives stationed in each of the facilities patrol border flanks in their locations to ensure that irregular migrants, especially those who use unauthorized routes, are checked. The commissioning of the Daura Forward Operations Base brought the number of such stations to fourteen (14) while so many others are near completion.

In 2017, we embarked on an upgrade of our website with a view to making it user-friendly especially for visa and passport applicants. That done, we revolutionized the visa application process and introduced the Visa on Arrival (VoA) policy. We pursued the reform vigorously in conformity with the ease of doing business and before the end of that year, a lot of high net worth investors were attracted. The country’s rating on the global ease of doing business index improved and NIS got awarded with the Best Reform-minded Government Agency in Nigeria. We deepened the reform efforts across our service windows including passport administration and issuance.

During our Annual Conference held in Abeokuta in 2018, where we reviewed our e-Passport document and process, we considered it necessary and in line with global migratory development to introduce the enhanced e-Passport. The reforms ushered in a simplified passport application process and channels while the passport document itself got enriched with enhanced security features. The polycarbonate enhanced e-Passport introduced was the answer to the requests of our diaspora population who asked for elongated passport validity. The e-passport comes in five to ten-year validity and has been applauded by many holders and public affairs commentators. The Minister is about to roll out the first enhanced passport outside the country in London.

In 2017, we realized that our headquarters lacked some office structures to complement existing ones and we felt that the situation was not at par with our desire for effective and efficient service delivery. We went to work and before long, we turned the entire landscape into a construction site of a sort. We delivered Transit Camp accommodation, modern Central Store, Drivers’ Lounge, new Mechanical Workshop, Fuel Dump facility, Fire Station, Digital Training Room, Sports facilities. The Minister just commissioned the ‘Muhammad Babandede Conference Centre’. An ultra-modern clinic is under construction.

On staff welfare, we reversed the age-long situation where personnel stayed for long without promotion. We ensured that promotion exercises were held yearly for all eligible. Available records have it that over 15,000 members of the workforce have enjoyed one form of elevation or the other since 2016. The Service is grateful to the Ministers who chair the Board, Directors, Commissioners and other members. Today, NIS is a paperless agency; the bulk of what we do is electronic. This is not only a super milestone but fantastic and should be sustained. The implication of going digital is enormous – less staff in the offices and more at our borders, transparency, efficiency and flexibility.

It shall remain a source of immense joy to me that we were able to deliver a modern Technology Building during my period of stewardship. The edifice has completely changed the fortunes of the Service and placed it centrally in the nation’s security architecture. It is a revolution indeed. In that edifice, the NIS sees the world, feels the world, relates with the world and contributes its quota to national and international security communities by simply pushing the buttons. With the Technology Building, we have delivered one of the most robust, complex and pragmatic security and migration management agencies in the world.

As l end this speech, I call for the deepening of those efforts and gestures that have held us together as one big family. I counsel all to appreciate each other and allow enough space for everyone to operate and make useful contributions to our great Service and nation as I exit. l desire to continue to read and hear about beautiful developments in this great family. I wish to continue to hear about news of greater heights and meaningful achievements for NIS and greater unity among the rank and file. I wish to be informed that succeeding leaders have surpassed our efforts and moved the Service to more enviable heights.

Let me make it very clear that I am lucky to be the 16th Comptroller General during the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. It is time to say it in a clear term that any CEO who refused to perform during this administration should blame himself/herself. President Buhari is like Napoleon Bonaparte who said “When I give a minister an order, I leave it to him/her to find the means to carry it out”. The environment is free without interference and our budgetary releases have reached almost 100%. I am happy that the Ministers and Permanent Secretaries I worked with accepted professional arguments.

I thank the President for finding me fit to be appointed the 16th Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service. I thank my Governor, Jigawa State Governor Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar, MON, for honouring me despite his busy schedule, and My Emir, HRH Dr Adamu Abubakar Maje, Chairman of Jigawa Traditional Council, who came all the way from Hadejia to honour his subject. I deeply appreciate his presence. I must not fail to mention my primary schoolmates. We started school in 1969 and still keep the bond. They are here to celebrate me today. My secondary schoolmates are also here, we call ourselves ROBA 80. I equally have my university mates, BUK 84, and lastly my 12th BC mates whom we started the journey in 1985.

I have fought the good fight of loyalty to my fatherland, I have made my contributions and it is my prayer that greater glory awaits us all in the Immigration family. I can’t afford to conclude without mentioning the tremendous support I got from my family, especially my lovely wife Gadatu. Every morning, she packaged me like a nursery student, returned home physically and emotionally drained, but still managed to repackage me for another day. My wife has done something extraordinary – the building of a modern shopping complex for the Immigration Officers Wives Association (IMMOWA) which she successfully handed over on Friday.

To all officers and men, thank you for contributing to the overall development of the Service. My heart is gladdened when I see the entire technology is mastered by young officers. Our leadership in the country must find a way to keep the talented working in public service before they are taken away by people who can pay more. In conclusion, it is important to note that we have provided the infrastructure, developed policies, manuals and created a conducive environment. I call on the leadership to sustain, maintain and implement. My sincere gratitude to the Ag CGI and his team, especially the organizing committee for this wonderful ceremony. I am delighted to be the first CGI to be pulled out.”